Mario Gotze’s second spell at boyhood club Borussia Dortmund hasn’t exactly turned out the way he wanted.
The 27-year-old former Golden Boy emerged as Germany‘s most promising footballing talent for a generation before controversially swapping the Westfalenstadion for Bayern Munich in 2013.
It was his dream to be managed by Pep Guardiola that lured him to Bavaria.
But he never truly pulled any trees and ultimately found his way back home several years later. There, the attacking midfielder is set to move on again this summer. Unlike last time, however, it is less obvious where his skills are in demand.
Both parties have been unable to agree terms for a new contract, meaning Gotze, entering what is generally regarded the peak years of a player’s career, will be a free agent come summer.
Below are contenders to become his next destination; a dream option, two realistic choices, one wildcard selection and our suggestion.
Gotze’s best performances undoubtedly came under Jurgen Klopp when Borussia Dortmund ruled German football. He played a pivotal role, in the number 10 position as BVB secured back-to-back championships at the start of the last decade. During that period under Klopp, he’d score 31 goals across 116 matches while registering 45 assists.
It’s fair to say the current Liverpool boss had a positive effect on him and prior to rejoining Dortmund there was an option to sign for the Reds as Klopp was keen for a reunification which Gotze revealed in the 2018 documentary, Being Mario Gotze.
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) January 9, 2016
“I decided to leave Bayern and Jurgen Klopp was interested in getting me to Liverpool. And I was also interested in working with him again,” he said.
“It’s still existing. He is a world-class coach and that’s why it’s always an option. I decided to join Borussia Dortmund, but it was not a decision against Liverpool or Jurgen Klopp. But on the contrary.”
Time has obviously since passed and it remains to be seen if Klopp is still eager to bring the 63-time German international to Anfield. But if that possibility exists – and remember there’s no transfer fee involved – you can bet your bottom dollar this will be Gotze’s dream move, especially with Liverpool‘s newfound status as English football’s supreme force.
Realistic: Bayer Leverkusen
There’s no doubt wherever Gotze ends up, and he will have a big say in the matter, regular playing time must be guaranteed.
So far this season, he’s featured in 13 of Dortmund‘s opening 23 league matches; a combination of illness and not being central to Lucien Favre’s plans has greatly impacted on his Bundesliga minutes, which presently amount to 503. Given what he’s capable of doing, this seems like a waste of talent.
To date, he’s only played his domestic football in Germany and there’s no reason why that won’t remain the case past this summer. One option is Bayer Leverkusen, who could lose their star playmaker Kai Havertz, and Gotze is no stranger to manager Peter Bosz, whom he previously worked under at BVB. Bayer could, if this season is able to conclude, offer him European Cup football as they are currently two points below the Champions League places.
A move to a whole other continent cannot be ruled out.
Gotze, who despite his infrequent appearances, remains a high-profile name and that life in front of the camera is something he might want to shake off and resurrect a once promising career which should have taken off after scoring the goal that secured Germany‘s fourth World Cup title in Brazil six years ago.
Back then, leaving a major European League for Major League Soccer was seemingly a destination reserved for those entering their twilight years. Not so anymore. For someone like Gotze, it’s equally a fresh start and enjoying a stress-free life given he’s not exactly a household name in the United States or Canadam, where his future could lie given Toronto FC has been heavily linked with him recently.
Squawka Suggest: AC Milan
What about being the catalyst that reinvigorates a fallen giant?
It goes without saying the last few seasons have been rough for AC Milan, who regularly contested European Cup finals in the 2000s, but there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel.
As things stand, they are just two points off playing European football next season, and they could retain Zlatan Ibrahimovic – who signed a six month deal to return in January – for another year.
— AC Milan (@acmilan) January 12, 2020
The experience he brings in bucketloads has paid dividends and Gotze, an admirer of the club from afar, reportedly favours a switch. The fact his wife Ann-Kathrin Brömmel is already familiar with the city, due to her modelling work, only enhances the prospect of a permanent switch. A move that benefits both his personal and professional life.